We are transitioning to the aftermath of the era of masks, which has come at a price and is being paid for predominantly by the most vulnerable, our children. The pandemic has robbed them of some of their carefree childhood years. Even though most have taken their masks off, and shown their faces again, does life go back to living sociably, I think not?

I personally believe all generations have always borne masks, and have continually lived in lock downs. This shows in how people feel about themselves, they have judged; they’re not being attractive, clever, good, or rich, enough.

This has been shown in how many over the years have had to work hard to barely make ends meet, or have been dealing with painful relationships or have memories that haunt them. What about those Parents who fear what the future could bring for their children? They bring their children up with the same fears they have.

But the game changer is can we use the pandemic as an example to possibly turn a painful experience, on its head and see the credo in it? Does this cloud have a silver lining? To give an example, let’s rewind to a scenario from a parent living with the pandemic in the past;

The alarm rings and the dreaded day begins. “Honey, hurry up your bus arrives soon.” She gives a groan. I pop my head into her room and say with hesitancy, “Remember the school rules, and be careful, wear your mask.” She interrupts with a “Mum, I don’t have to be careful.” But I continue with, “follow what the teacher says and look for any signs of sickness in your classmates” The child bleakly moans. Next my guilt trip, “you do not want the family and especially granny catching the virus, do you.”

The uncertainties over the last few years have been undeniably nightmarish. Parents had to deprive their children from so many things like the company of friends. Not to mention, their anxieties of “what if”, it robbed children of a normal childhood. Like what if we have to work online again? What if my child fails the year? Does the school have health and safety measures in place? What if there isn’t, and they get COVID and spread it to others, and then they get sick?

Even today the what if continues… We have been on red alert for a couple of years now and with so many unknowns, stress has run riot. So, now, the issue is, how do we prepare our children for stress? How do we transform the past “what ifs” and fearing the “what ifs” to accepting the “what ifs”? If we take the example of the pandemic, we can change our perception of COVID from a threat to a challenge.

Even though we are living in these uncertain times children are very resilient. They love the idea of unconventionality. They have the ability to replace fear with curiosity and not get overwhelmed by change. For children life itself is a challenge. They are continually adapting to new situations, finding solutions to problematic circumstances that arise. Often it is the parents who find the change more difficult. Even so, as caring parents, we can discuss the concerns we have and they have about the future, and what living with the pandemic is like now, compared to pre- pandemic. We can help them protect themselves from the virus while still living a fulfilled life.

Children are innovators and use their acquired knowledge to adapt to unexpected situations. As the saying goes “give a child a log and see what they can create with it.” This means that while, COVID has its fears and children may be anxious, it can motivate them to use their own ideas to shape a future. One example of this is where children use the app Tik Tok as a learning tool. The stress of limited social connections has created a virtual way of learning.

Stress may be seen as a threat or as a challenge. If you choose to see the stress of COVID as a threat, we will be on red alert all the time worrying about who has it? Is it going to ruin my daily routine or even my life style? As a threat you live with a constant fight or flight response. This can affect the ability to think rationally and act appropriately, which in turn affects our ability to learn.

When stress, in this case COVID is viewed as a challenge, children are given the opportunity to adapt to the changes in their lives. One way for parents to make this a challenge rather than a threat is by communicating with their children. Parents should be discussing COVID so children understand that tense emotions are normal and can be dealt with in a constructive way. Children should be able to recognize their emotions (Know when they are feeling fearful, sad or angry). Then deal with it constructively. They can explore their emotions not as a problem but as a puzzle and find solutions.

In 2019 my English institute closed its doors overnight due to the Pandemic. My staff and I were unsure of how we were to make ends meet. Thinking fast, we combined our technological resources and started teaching online. Three teachers and over nine classes worked online from one day to the next. We were often in the dark but trial and error allowed us to function effectively online. These technological skills that we were forced to learn gave us the ability to reach students and teach them even from remote places. It has also made us use the internet in more creative ways. We viewed this experience as a challenge.

So, even if, COVID has triggered a lot of stress and fear amongst parents and children. There are two ways to deal with this. One is to treat it as a threat, the other is to treat it as a challenge. Children will learn better when they see change as a challenge and not as a threat. As parents we need to encourage this. This needs to be explicitly taught to children so they will become resilient adults. It will enable them to find innovative solutions to the many problems that arise in life and become a lot more resilient.